Like anyone else, my memory of childhood is a silvery haze of hotel suites, European cafes and equestrian trophies, yet one memory in particular stands alone as the most vivid and seminal moment of my youth: during third grade, Ms. Wheeler took my hand after lunch and led me away from the other children, off into the dark recesses of recess. Alone, she knelt in front of me and whispered softly, "I was up all night thinking about your spelling test, it was inspired. I couldn't put a grade on it because any letter I might add would only spoil its perfection." She turned away from me for a moment, toward the polo fields and lap pool. When she faced me again, I could see that she was crying. "Soren, you are the most gifted student I have ever taught. You can be anything you want to be in life, even President. Especially President."
First order of business: a million trampolines
It meant a lot to me, though for the honest encouragement she offered or the long kiss we shared directly after, I cannot say. Still, I attribute that one moment with my life-long pursuit of helping children. I volunteer as a tutor for a local private school teaching wealthy and beautiful children the intricacies of the humanities, and on Thursdays, fencing. I try to nurture their passions and confidence just as Ms. Wheeler nurtured mine; I tell them how they can choose any career they want, even leading the free world. The difference, however, is that I am lying. Being President is hard goddamn work and I wouldn't dare take anything away from the 43 men who have held the job by suggesting any of these kids could ever do it. In fact, as a demonstration of my reverence on this holiday, I want to introduce you to the 6 children I know who will almost certainly never be President.
Madison is in first grade and already an exceptional reader. She demonstrates good problem solving skills, diplomacy and, has proved on more than one occasion that she can drive a car in an emergency. In all respects, Madison seems like she is on the right track toward becoming an elected official. Then she opens her mouth.
I have never heard a more thorough butchering of the English language than the gibberish that falls between Madison's absurdly-spaced teeth. Her parents tell me it's a speech impediment but I know her well and remain suspicious that she's just lazy. Madison can remember every letter in the alphabet but refuses to say half of them correctly, and it's gotten to the point where she's either suffering from muscular dystrophy in her tongue or she's doing it intentionally to make me upset. I'm banking on the latter. I can already say with certainty that her flagrant disregard for the importance of discourse and her general insolence would make her a terrible candidate. The President has to be able to articulate points and orate confidently in front of the anxious eyes of a nation. How can she do that if she can't even pronounce, "Please, I want to go home," in front of one person?
I'm sorry, Madison, even if you started trying now, you could never be President.
Despite initial appearances, Kingsley comes from a broken home. He is a sharp dresser and a startlingly talented cello player (in the context of other nine-year-olds only, I can still destroy him). All and all, he is one of the most thoughtful and optimistic children I have ever met, but he is also a crybaby.
As I understand it, his father left the family sometime last year to live on a compound with yoga instructors, but judging by the number times Kingsley bursts into tears over completely non-related events, you'd think he left yesterday. After each one of his meltdowns he gets wistful and buries his face in his knees or stares out a window, like that's somehow going to bring his dad back. Kingsley's inability to move on from old wounds would really inhibit his ability to make rational decisions in the war room, with his finger on the button. He doesn't have the thick skin a politician needs when opponents bring up the dark pieces of his history. Plus he weeps so readily in public that I have to be embarrassed for the both of us, and no amount of yelling will make him stop. He is certainly smart enough to lead but lacks the social capacity to be a leader.
I'm sorry, Kingsley, until you learn to leave your baggage at home, you can never be President.
On the hierarchy of contributions to the human race, semiotics and philosophy are at the very top while math is crammed in somewhere at the bottom near Gore-Tex and meat slicers. Math is pointless, stupid and hard, that's why we invented calculators to do it for us. Yet for some inexplicable reason, Matilda is ready to throw her life away on the subject. She is a smart girl in all other respects and has the charisma necessary to be a commander-in-chief some day but her dumb obsession with soulless and confusing numbers means that she will never have the opportunity to by someone special. Ever.
A President has to make tough decisions in which there isn't always a black and white answer, she has to discuss treaties with foreign dignitaries, and command the strongest military in the world. I'd like to see Matilda try and do that with long division. She can't, she can't because math is infuriating and obsolete and even dangerous, probably. Also because she's just learning subtraction right now.
I'm sorry Matilda, no one wants to elect a math nerd to the best job in the world, you can't be President.